Former president Goodluck Jonathan says Nigerians need increased access to government information and media freedom, hence his administration signed the Freedom of Information (FOI) Act in 2011.
Mr Jonathan said this shortly after being honoured with a Special Recognition Award at the 10th anniversary of the Freedom of Information (FOI) Act awards night on Friday in Abuja.
The former president was represented at the event by Ms Ann Iyonu, the Executive Director of Goodluck Jonathan Foundation.
The 10th anniversary of FOI Act in Nigeria is organised by the International Press Centre (IPC), in collaboration with the Media Rights Agenda (MRA) and the European Union (EU).
“I want to commend the organisers of this initiative because access to information is important to the growth of our society considering the times we are in today.
“When citizens are well informed, they will not fall victim to fake news that is spreading in our society and often driven by speculations and falsehood.
“My administration enacted the FOI act on May 28, 2011 to expand media freedom and give people reasonable access to information on the activities of the government for the good of the society.
“I believe that for a society to grow and develop, people should be granted more access to official information.
“We are now in an official age, which means the society will not function well if the people do not have adequate information on how government business is conducted,” he said.
The former president stressed that if the process of governance was not reasonably opened up, some people would generate too much false information that would create problems for the society.
He congratulated and encouraged all the awardees who he said deserved the recognition.
In his welcome address, Lanre Arogundade, Executive Director said the FOI Act, which was signed into law on May 28, 2011, was a vision brought into reality by Mr Jonathan, the former president.
“A decade on, I am happy to stand before you to say tremendous progress has been made, yet there are opportunities for more to be done using the FOI.
“On behalf of the International Press Centre, the Media Rights Agenda and partners of the European Union Support to Democratic Governance in Nigeria (EU-SDGN) therefore, I welcome you all to this celebration of history.”
Mr Arogundade expressed conviction that the 10th anniversary of FOI Act was a milestone worth celebrating.
He said the occasion was also an opportunity to take stock and strategise on improving the implementation and the usage of “this important law in the years to come.”